Your smile is unique. So too is the structure of your mouth. While you’re already familiar with how your teeth and gums fit, you may be less aware of the connecting tissues that keep everything, such as your tongue and lips, in place.
These connecting tissues, called frenum, can sometimes become an issue, growing and developing in ways that interfere with normal activities. Such issues include noticeable gaps in your front teeth, a speech impediment in children, and a baby’s difficulty in breast or bottle feeding. In these cases, a frenectomy may be a solution.
What Exactly is a Frenectomy?
An oral frenectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that modifies the connective tissues inside the mouth. These soft tissues, or frenum, attach different parts of the mouth, including the tongue and lips, to other surfaces within the mouth’s structure and may become too restrictive or overgrown.
To more clearly understand what a frenectomy is and how a patient can benefit, it helps to understand what and where these binding tissues are located and why they would need this surgical procedure.
Oral frenum issues most commonly associated with a frenectomy include:
A lingual frenum is a thin, vertical tissue connecting the underneath surface of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. In children, this lingual frenum may become overdeveloped, restricting the movement of the tongue. As a result, the baby or child can find it difficult to breastfeed, bottle feed, and swallow.
If left undiagnosed and untreated, speech impediments as the child grows older can develop and are commonly referred to as one being tongue-tied.
A frenectomy will correct these problems and allow for normal eating and also speech development in children. For adults with a tight lingual frenum, the procedure can halt gums pulling away from the bottom front teeth and also alleviate the restricted mobility of the tongue.
The labial frenum is connective tissue that attaches your top lip to the space right above the front teeth. When it is shortened, it may prevent you from lifting the lip in the usual ways (called lip ties) and lead to complications with speech and the ability to smile normally. It can also limit your ability to properly brush the front teeth and gums, raising the risk for tooth decay and other dental issues.
A frenectomy can increase the mobility of the upper lip, allowing for better speech and facial expression, including smiles. It can also improve dental hygiene access to those front teeth and gums.
Another issue experienced here is when the frenum overdevelops and creates a thick band between a patient’s two top front teeth, interfering with normal development and spacing, causing a wide, noticeable gap. In these cases, a frenectomy will remove, reshape, or shorten the excess tissue.
What Does a Frenectomy Procedure Involve?
A Frenectomy procedure is a minor, in-office surgery that only takes approximately 5 to 15 minutes to complete.
The dentist will commonly start by giving young children general anesthesia. Adults, however, will have the choice between a local anesthesia or, if feeling anxious, one of the available sedation options.
Once the patient is under the anesthesia or under sedation, the dentist will use a laser or scalpel to make an incision to relax the muscular tissue, releasing the tightness. Sutures may be necessary depending upon the circumstances and whether a scalpel or laser is used.
The best way to ensure proper healing will be to follow the guidelines your dentist provides after the procedure itself. As for recovery times, healing will usually occur within 1-2 weeks. Patients may need to take antibiotics to avoid any complications or infections and should practice gentle dental hygiene.
When Should you Consider Getting a Frenectomy?
The best time to consider getting a frenectomy varies depending on a patient’s age and the issues the frenum is causing.
Babies experiencing problems with the lingual frenum anchoring the tongue often undergo the procedure to help them breastfeed or feed through a bottle better. This early procedure will also help prevent speech impediments from developing.
With a labial frenum, younger children whose permanent teeth have not yet grown in may benefit from a frenectomy and prevent a wide gap from forming between the upper front teeth.
Those already with permanent front teeth may be advised to undergo aesthetic or orthodontic treatment to close a gap. The dentist can then assess whether the extended frenum was the cause and take measures from there.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus to Find Out More
When it comes to you or your child’s oral health, the team at Lifetime Dental Health understands how essential it is to find solutions to issues such as a shortened or overdeveloped frenum. Contact our office in Columbus today to learn more and schedule a consultation with our skilled dental team.
Wisdom teeth are four teeth (referred to as third molars) that are located in the back of the mouth. If wisdom teeth emerge, or erupt, through the gums, they typically erupt when a person is between 17-25 years old.
Wisdom teeth become impacted when they are obstructed by teeth nearby and don’t have enough space to emerge fully.
There are two main types of impacted wisdom teeth. They are:
Partially impacted: This is where some of the tooth is visible
Fully impacted: This is where the entire tooth is below the gum line
In either situation, they need to be examined to determine the best course of action, which may include extraction. If you require extraction, it is usually an outpatient procedure that includes sedation and tooth removal.
Even if you aren’t feeling any pain, an impacted wisdom tooth is an invitation for bacteria to enter and create tooth decay. If left to grow, impacted wisdom teeth can create damage to adjacent teeth and result in inflammation, severe pain, and even infection in the mouth and jaw area.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Oftentimes, you won’t experience any symptoms with impacted wisdom teeth. However, when your impacted wisdom teeth are problematic, your symptoms can either be mild or severe.
Below are some symptoms that a person with an impacted wisdom tooth, or impacted wisdom teeth, might experience. These symptoms are listed to help you identify possible manifestations of this issue at home. If you believe you have any of these symptoms, please contact our team and set up an appointment.
Swollen, tender, or painful gums
Gum redness or bleeding
Swollen jaw or difficulty opening one’s jaw and mouth
Disagreeable taste in your mouth
Earache, headache, or jaw-ache with the above symptoms
Causes of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
There is not always enough space in the mouth for wisdom teeth to grow without accidentally pushing other teeth out of the way. Wisdom teeth might grow in sideways in an attempt to seek out more room in the mouth. An incoming wisdom tooth can grow towards another tooth, such as the second molar, and lead to overlap or collision. This is often the cause of toothaches or pain in the mouth.
In opposition, a wisdom tooth can grow away from the second molar, towards the back of the mouth, leading to tooth or jaw pain. Or, possibly, a wisdom tooth might just barely poke through the gums, in an attempt to emerge. This valiant effort of the wisdom tooth attempting to emerge can lead to swollen, tender, or bleeding gums.
All of these atypical growth patterns will result in an impacted wisdom tooth. Thus, when the eruption of wisdom teeth leads to abnormal growth patterns, a person can experience the aforementioned symptoms.
Many people feel these treatable symptoms when experiencing impacted wisdom teeth. This is a common experience for young adults! Often, young adults can ask their peer groups about experiences with impacted wisdom teeth and wisdom tooth surgery, and garner some information about their peers’ experiences.
What if I Have an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
The patients at Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus, OH are welcomed in at any time for an x-ray, which is the proper way to diagnose an impacted wisdom tooth. A simple x-ray of the jaw can reveal all of your teeth’s growth patterns, including wisdom teeth growth patterns. This might help you and your dentist decide if you would like to undergo wisdom tooth removal surgery. Our team will also examine your mouth for impacted wisdom teeth at every 6-month biannual visit.
Some of our patients might benefit from the surgical removal of an impacted wisdom tooth to eradicate their symptoms and prevent future issues like infection. Wisdom tooth surgery is done in an outpatient setting and the person undergoing wisdom tooth surgery will return home on the same day that they start their procedure. Follow-up care is done at home, typically utilizing pain medications, ice packs, and rest to accelerate the healing process.
If you start to feel symptoms from an impacted wisdom tooth, it is unlikely for such symptoms to disappear on their own. This would be the best time to contact our team and have them assess your teeth. If a person has an impacted or growing wisdom tooth, but does not have associated symptoms, they might not need removal surgery.
Impacted wisdom teeth cannot be prevented using any particular method. However, dental health is highly important and interconnected. So, taking care of one’s mouth and attending regular 6-month dentist appointments is crucial to a healthy mouth. As always, it is important to practice daily dental hygiene, like brushing and flossing, to support your beautiful teeth!
If you believe you have an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us here at Lifetime Dental Health.
“Let a smile be your umbrella.” “Smile and the world smiles with you.” We’ve all heard these well-known statements many times. And we know many things can make us smile: a newborn baby, a sunny day, a special memory. Smiles usually come naturally. But what if seeing your own smile doesn’t make you smile because it isn’t as attractive as you’d like it to be? Lifetime Dental Health can help, with two procedures designed to turn a so-so smile into a so nice one: bonding and veneers.
What’s the Difference Between Veneers and Bonding?
Dental veneers and dental bonding can both cover your chipped, cracked, or broken teeth so well that no one (except you and us) will know they aren’t your natural teeth. However, though they are designed to solve the same problems, differences between veneers and bonding may make one or the other more appropriate for your situation.
Bonding is simpler and less involved than a veneer. And it doesn’t change your tooth. Bonding uses dental resin to build directly upon the damaged or discolored tooth. Depending on the level of damage, it can fill in gaps between teeth, hide roots revealed by receding gums, or build up a broken tooth. We apply the resin (color-matched to your natural teeth) directly to the surface of a problem tooth and harden it using a special dental light. Once it’s hardened, we file it smooth, and shape it to blend with the shape of your other teeth.
A veneer is a piece of extremely thin porcelain shaped to cover the front of a damaged, misshapen, or discolored tooth. Like bonding resin, the porcelain is colored to match your natural teeth. Unlike bonding, a veneer involves an outside dental lab for its preparation and, most often, two or more dental appointments. In the first visit, we reshape your tooth and make an impression of it for the dental lab. In the second, we apply the veneer to your tooth with safe dental cement. To get a perfect fit, we may need to remove and adjust the veneer several times before it is set. Though more involved than bonding, a veneer can last for as long as 15 years.
What Are the 5 Most Important Factors to Consider Before Choosing?
Neither bonding nor veneers are right for every damaged tooth. And even for good candidates, bonding and veneers are not equally appropriate. Let’s look at 5 factors you’ll want to consider in making your choice:
Looks. Since the goal is a more appealing smile, the look of the result is an important consideration. Both procedures provide “new” teeth that look like – and react like – the rest. Over time, bonding is prone to staining and may need to be redone for best effect. Porcelain is virtually stainless, so If your teeth are significantly stained or discolored, a veneer will work better than bonding. As for chips, cracks, or breaks, bonding can be redone if need be; If a veneer cracks, the only fix is a crown.
Durability/Longevity. Whichever choice you make, you’ll want it to last as long as possible, and that’s dependent upon the material used. Bonding material is a dental resin brushed onto a tooth. That’s why you only need one dental visit, and why, if it chips or discolors, it can be readily repaired. Veneers are made of porcelain, and they are customized to your tooth. Veneers cannot be repaired.
Time. Bonding comes out ahead when it comes to time, as it can usually be done in a single dental visit. Veneers always require two visits, and sometimes three. To cure a painful tooth, or up your smile for a special occasion, a one-stop procedure could be the better call.
Cost. It’s no surprise that bonding is less expensive than veneers. Veneers require the skills and equipment of a dental lab in addition to that of a dentist. However, the difference lessens as the amount of work involved increases. For one or two teeth, bonding may be just what you want. However, the more teeth you have that need repair, the smaller the difference. Be sure to compare costs based on your actual situation, as in some cases veneers may be worth the extra bit more.
Maintenance. When it comes to daily care, veneers and bonding are equal, and a good dental hygiene routine, plus regular professional check-ups and cleanings, is crucial. Both bonded teeth and those with a veneer, need daily brushing and flossing just like your natural teeth. And like natural teeth, to keep them from chipping, cracking, or staining, it’s best to avoid hard food, such as hard candy, nuts, and crunchy snacks; dark beverages, such as red wine, dark fruit juices, and colas; chewing ice; and using tobacco.
This is a lot to think about regarding bonding and veneers, so you’ll want to be sure to start with a consultation to help you decide which procedure would be best for you. You can contact us or make an appointment online. Our dentists are always available to help you make a choice you’ll be happy with.